November 13, 2011

Maren's Birth

On November 3rd, three days after my Halloween due date, I woke up at about 3:30 a.m. I couldn't fall asleep for a while, and by 4:00, I realized I was having contractions that ached in my lower back. By 5:00, we called my mother-in-law to come take Ivy just in case things sped up fast. Well, they didn't, so we stayed and talked until about 8:30 before we decided to go to the hospital. By this point, I had to close my eyes and focus during contractions, by they still weren't that bad. Before going to the hospital, I called my midwife, Jennifer Walker, to see if she thought I should go yet. I was lucky because out of a group of several midwives, she was my favorite and she happened to be on call that day. Everything seemed to be going so right. I was mostly just ridiculously excited to be in labor.

We left and said goodbye to Ivy, knowing that next time we saw her would be when she was meeting her new sister. I was really excited for that moment. Ivy had been anticipating the baby's birth more than anyone, I think. On the way to the hospital, Jared and I talked and I remember that the sky looked beautiful as the sun rose above the mountains. It was one of those bright, clear mornings that feel full of promise. I was thinking that when I remembered this day, the physical details of my labor weren't going to be nearly as important to me as the way I felt emotionally. I was so content and just enjoying the comfortable feeling that nothing could go wrong. I just knew everything would be okay.

When we got to the hospital, my midwife checked my cervix and said it was almost too far back to feel because the baby's head was so low. She thought that I was 90% effaced but probably only dilated one centimeter. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. She told me that they wanted to check again in about an hour. So, Jared and I walked around and ate cookies and the contractions still came, but were still not bad. I figured we'd be sent home soon and I wondered if maybe I was imagining that the contractions were stronger than they really were. I went back to get checked and the nurse said she couldn't reach my cervix very well either and that I seemed to still be only one centimer dilated. Then another nurse came in and checked me and said, "Okay, I don't think they were feeling your cervix because you're at least four centimeters!" Now I knew for sure that I was in labor.

When they checked again a couple hours later, I was dilated to a six. I was surprised that it had seemed so easy so far compared to my first labor, which was really intense by the time I was dilated to a four. But then transition hit and it didn't seem so easy anymore. I was relaxing and breathing like I had been, but it just wasn't enough. The back labor was so strong and counterpressure didn't seem to help as much as it had with my first labor. They checked me again and I was still a six. Then again. Still a six. After hours of no progress, I said that if I was a six one more time, I wanted an epidural. I didn't have particularly strong feelings this time about avoiding one because I just felt really confident that everything would be fine. They checked again and although I was feeling the urge to push already, I was still a six. So I got the epidural, mostly because wanting to push when you can't is so very unpleasant, and those last few contractions while they administered it seemed nearly unbearable.

As soon as it took effect, the midwife checked me again and said, "Guess what? You're a nine." Within a few minutes I was fully dilated and feeling pretty great. My head suddenly felt so clear and I was so emotionally there in a way I hadn't been able to be when I was having Ivy because my whole body and mind were overwhelmed with the intense urge to push. It was a little weird not feeling the urge, but I pushed anyway and it took about a half hour to get her out. When she was coming out, the cord was around her neck pretty tight, but the midwife was able to cut it quickly and free her.

When I saw my little baby girl, I got teary and emotional and I just felt so happy. She was adorable, but the first thing I said when I looked at her was, "She doesn't look like Ivy." The epidural had almost completely worn off and I could move easily, but I still felt hardly any pain. No tailbone injury like the first time, no stitches, hardly any tearing. It was so nice. It really couldn't have been better. Maren weighed 7 lbs. 9 oz. and was beautiful, even with a crooked squished nose. It was strange having another baby, but I fell in love with her in no time.

Everything afterwards went extraordinarily well, too. Breastfeeding has been as easy as you can imagine. Maren nursed great from the first time. We left the hospital after 24 hours because I know now how hard it is to sleep there. The first few days after she was born, I kept wondering if I really had just had a baby. I felt that good. Most importantly, Maren is healthy and adorable and cuddly and everything that a newborn should be.
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